With winter almost upon us and electricity costs soaring year-on-year, energy efficiency is one of the most practical ways to save. A project by FNB Housing Finance in Cosmo City aimed at bringing down the costs of electricity for affordable housing has shown the benefits of putting sustainable systems in place.
“While sustainability projects are often linked to the higher end housing market or businesses, it is in our market, the low end, where savings in electricity costs will make a real impact to customer affordability,” says Marius Marais, CEO of Housing Finance.
Ten Cosmo City households were fitted with solar water heaters and insulation fitted into the foundations, walls and ceilings keep the temperature self-controlled, which on a 40m² property equates to about 700kWh/a (i.e. 40 x 17.3kWh/a = 692kWh/a). For instance, if we assume an average tariff of R1.34 per kWh, then this is an equivalent of R927.28 saving per year.
“The units have already almost reached their return on investment, two years after completion,” says Marais. “We hope to roll this pilot project out to all of our affordable housing units in the near future.”
Electricity costs has become a large contributor of household spend, with the trend expected to continue as electricity prices are due to rise 8% every year for the next five years. There is already legislation in place determining that all new housing developments are required to have an alternative energy plan on at least 50% of the housing units.
“Electricity makes a big dent in South African’s disposable income and, in turn, their affordability. However, it can also be controlled and save you money, through diligence,” says Marais.
Geysers are the biggest contributor to electricity bills.
“If you haven’t installed a solar geyser, there are a few ways in which to save on your geyser bill, by switching it off during the day, when you are at work, and by wrapping the geyser in a blanket or insulating it so that the warmth is not lost,” says Marais.
Small changes, such as always turning off the house lights, switching plugs off at the walls, will also help bring down high electricity costs. Electric heat is very expensive and will contribute to your high bill, rather dress warmly and remember to shut all doors to save on heat.
Prepaid meters are very useful in helping control electricity costs. They are simple to top-up as well, FNB has many different channels to pay for prepaid electricity, Online, through eWallet or Cell Phone Banking, so there is no hassle at all.